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Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi alters visitation policy

With Mississippi now having 10 presumptive cases of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), hospitals across the state are starting to limit access to the outside world.

Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi announced a temporary revised visitation policy on Sunday, which will go into effect at noon on Monday, March 16. The new policy will be implemented “until further notice,” according to the hospital’s release.

“North Mississippi is committed to keeping our patients, visitors, physicians and staff safe as we respond to the coronavirus disease,” a statement from the hospital read. “As part of our commitment, we are taking proactive measures to help prevent the introduction and spread of COVID-19 at our hospital.”

Adult patients, including those who are going to the hospital’s emergency room, are permitted to have only one visitor in the hospital building at a time. Each visitor must also pass the hospital’s screening guidelines.

Pediatric patients are permitted to have two adult visitors, but both must be the patient’s parents, guardians or caregivers.

All hospital visitors are asked to enter through the hospital’s main front entrance at 1100 Belk Boulevard, where patients will be screened along with visitors. Visitors who are showing symptoms associated with respiratory illness (fever, runny nose, cough, shortness of breath) or report they have recently visited an area identified as a location experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak will not be allowed to enter the hospital.

Patients who are scheduled to have a test or procedure will be asked to enter through the main entrance. Any patients who exhibit symptoms associated with respiratory illness or have been in an area experiencing COVID-19 outbreak will receive further evaluation to determine next steps.

Emergency room patients who arrive by a private vehicle are allowed to enter through the normal emergency room entrance, located to the right of the hospital’s main entrance. Emergency department staff will check in and screen patients.

At 10 p.m., the hospital’s main front entrance will close, and all hospital and emergency room patients and visitors must enter through the emergency room entrance.

The only exceptions to the revised policy include obstetric patients, who will be allowed to have one partner and one birth support person. Adult patients who have been determined to by the care team to be at the “end-of-life” may be visited by members of their immediate family. The hospital will consider other exceptions not listed on a case-by-case basis.

Visitors are not allowed in adult isolation rooms under any circumstance.

All visitors allowed into the hospital according to the revised policy or by one of the exemptions listed must stay in the patient’s room or associated waiting room during the entirety of their visit until ready to leave the hospital. If multiple visitors arrive to visit a patient, only one visitor will be allowed in the building at a time.

Baptist Hospital also noted other ways people can keep in touch with a family member or loved one instead of an in-person visit, including: calling the hospital or patient’s cell phone, texting, skyping, FaceTime or email.

According to the Mississippi State Department of Health, Lafayette County has not had a confirmed presumptive case of COVID-19 as of Sunday morning. The only county north of Jackson with a confirmed case are LeFlore and Hancock Counties.